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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: KC 7, NE 31

Update: Ben Watson has not practiced this week with an unspecified knee injury and is listed as doubtful to play. I have removed him from the projections. In other news, Tom Brady is not on the injury report at all after having been a resident there for the entirety of 2007. This only begs the question - "what is so wrong with Tom that they would not call him injured?" His bruised foot (and rumored to be broken) did not prevent him from practicing this week.

Ah yes, the biggest mismatch of the weekend. The Patriots get to have another chip on their shoulder from blowing the Super Bowl for the first time and that will not be a good thing when weaker visitor show up. The Chiefs enter 2007 hoping that Brodie Croyle doesn't end up to be Brodie Croyle and that Larry Johnson can rekindle the rushing game of old. One more strike and they're out.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
Homefield: Arrowhead Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NE - +16.5 45
2 OAK - - -
3 @ATL - - -
4 DEN - - -
5 @CAR - - -
6 BYE - - -
7 TEN - - -
8 @NYJ - - -
9 TB - - -
10 @SD - - -
11 NO - - -
12 BUF - - -
13 @OAK - - -
14 @DEN - - -
15 SD - - -
16 MIA - - -
17 @CIN - - -
KC at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Brodie Croyle     190,1
RB Larry Johnson 40 50  
TE Tony Gonzalez   50,1  
WR Jeff Webb   10  
WR Devard Darling   30  
WR Dwayne Bowe   50  
PK John Carney 1 XP    
Pregame Notes: This could be yet another long year for the Chiefs who desperately want to believe that Brodie Croyle is an NFL quality quarterback even though all the passing success last year came with Damon Huard as the starter. Larry Johnson is back but his offensive line isn't and the rushing game only turned in around 3.5 yards per carry last year. There were no big name free agents acquired so evidently the team believes it has stars hiding on their roster.. somewhere... in theory....

Quarterback: Brodie Croyle was given the starting job again this year and he was marginally better in 2007 when he made later season starts. But over the final seven games of the year he only had five touchdowns and only once broke the lofty 200 passing yard barrier. It is no coincidence that the Chiefs ended their year on a nine game losing streak. Patient owners in Kansas City. Very patient.

Running Backs: Larry Johnson played half a season in 2007 before a foot injury forced him to stop playing. Unlike his 1700+ rushing yard seasons from 2005 and 2006, Johnson was en route to a 1100 yard, six touchdown season. The blocking is just not there anymore and the lack of a decent quarterback will once again ensure defenses load up against the run. It's also no coincidence that Johnson's 2000 total yard seasons ended after a quarterback change and a couple of line retirements.

Wide Receivers: Perhaps the lone bright spot of 2007 was the play of the rookie Dwayne Bowe who registered 70 catches for 995 yards and five touchdowns to dwarf what any other wideout did. Jeff Webb remains and Devard Darling has joined the team to see how fast a guy can run and yet not catch a pass. This unit is all about Bowe who will be limited by his quarterback unless Croyle really steps up this year.

Tight Ends: The ageless (32) Tony Gonzalez actually comes off one of his better seasons when he had 99 catches for 1172 yards last year. While he did suffer with Croyle in four games with sub-50 yard efforts, he had two games with over 100 yards. He only scored once with Croyle at the helm.

Match Against the Defense: Well, this may not be pretty. A bad offensive line, a shaky quarterback in perpetual learning mode and a running back returning from a lost season does not play out well in New England. Sure - the Chiefs will have to pass and Johnson comes into play in that capacity as well. But relying on longer connects down the field is risky if not unreasonable. Look for mediocre numbers from all but Gonzo and Johnson thanks to catching the ball.

Gaining Fantasy Points KC 27 32 30 3 31 27
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 14 9 9 15 1 1
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) KC -13 -23 -21 12 -30 -26

New England Patriots (0-0)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC - -16.5 45
2 @NYJ - - -
3 MIA - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 @SF - - -
6 @SD - - -
7 DEN - - -
8 STL - - -
9 @IND - - -
10 BUF - - -
11 NYJ - - -
12 @MIA - - -
13 PIT - - -
14 @SEA - - -
15 @OAK - - -
16 ARZ - - -
17 @BUF - - -
NEP vs KC Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     250,2
RB Laurence Maroney 100,2 10  
TE Ben Watson 20
WR Randy Moss   90,1  
WR Jabar Gaffney   40  
WR Wes Welker   70,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: Missed it by that much... The Patriots dream of the perfect season was squashed by the Giants and how that plays out will be fascinating to see. It could merely motivate them even more which is something the rest of the league would rather not see. Or it could have a significant deflating effect. Whatever the case may be will not be apparent since the Patriots open with a ridiculous schedule of the Chiefs, Jets and Dolphins.

Quarterback: After setting the all-time record with 50 passing scores and leading the NFL in pass yardage last year, there is little that Tom Brady needs to prove - except that his foot is okay. Brady has barely been seen in a uniform suffering from a deep bone bruise but has sworn he is ready to play this week. His passing may be barely needed for the first month of the season since the opponents are so weak so it is not until week six that Brady really needs to be ready to go this year.

For once the worst part of the Patriots passing game is the schedule and by that I mean it is too easy.

Running Backs: Sure, Laurence Maroney owners felt the sting when their early draft pick just stopped playing in week three for a few weeks. He returned after Sammy Morris was hurt and had mediocre games until week 15 when he caught on fire again and scored in each of the remaining six games with four of those efforts topping 100 rushing yards.

How reliable Maroney will be in 2008 is easy to know - somewhere between "almost for sure" and "heads". The Patriots will torment any who dare use their rushing game even though it should enjoy a banner year in 2008, The schedule is a cake walk and tailor made for allowing big rushing yards and scores - if the Pats elect to use their running backs.... and you correctly guess which one in which week. Maroney goes until he is injured but he's always been eventually injured. And then the fun begins.

Wide Receivers: Not hard to understand how Brady ended up with 50 touchdown passes when Randy Moss had a record 23 himself. Moss did not reinvent himself in New England, he merely perfected himself. Somehow an under-sized slot receiver also had a nice year when Wes Welker led the league with 112 catches for 1175 yards and eight scores. In leagues awarding reception points, the Welker owners were the ones wetting their pants since he was a deep backup to start the year in most leagues. Donte Stallworth is gone now but he added little and Jabar Gaffney has refused to be put on the shelf. The question is not if, it is only how much and who and when. This unit can post the points, it just depends on how badly they want to beat opponents.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson started last year with five scores in the first five games and then none for the rest of the regular season. As Moss and particularly Welker came into prominence, Brady just rarely needed to rely on Watson who missed a few games injured anyway. He has never played a full 16 game schedule yet.

Match Against the Defense: The Chiefs ranked great against quarterbacks last year but mostly because opponents just ran all over them and never needed to throw. That throws an interesting tangent into this game - Brady may or may not still have the effects of his bone bruise and would not have to throw much and still win the game. So how much does he throw and how much does Maroney or another runner take over? I am projecting an average game for Brady and a better one for Maroney. This will be interesting to see because this week will be like a lot of games this year for the Pats and how they respond to an easy matchup will help predict future ones. And they are plenty of them coming.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 1 10 1 16 2 2
Preventing Fantasy Points KC 2 25 8 6 30 29
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) NE -1 15 7 -10 28 27

The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late


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